ACC Operation basketball is underway with player interviews today. NC State sent Lennard Freeman and Al Freeman to meet with the media. The full transcript of their time at the podium is below.
And here’s the highlight of the day from Lennard:
Q. Just what you can say about growing through adversity and going through your injury and what you can say you're excited about this year and what you learned from that time.
LENNARD FREEMAN: I learned a lot. Sitting out every game was like a film session, and you see the spots that people should have done or the moves that people should have done like in the moment. Like you're watching other teams play and you're watching us place like, oh, he should have did that there. It was just a great experience, and that time off just made me more hungry since I wasn't able to work out or help my team out, put me in a different mindset that this is my last one, and I've got to go twice as hard for the time I was hurt.
Q. You hopefully are going to have a good final season; what is it that you have to do to leave the program in good shape for this time next year?
LENNARD FREEMAN: We just want to work hard. I think just leave it all on the table. This is my last year. I don't want to leave with any regrets. I want to go out by going to the tournament, and that's my goal, just getting right back to the tournament. I've been there the first two years, and my second two we haven't been there. Me experiencing that, that's the only goal, just don't leave anything, knowing that this is my last go-around. I don't want to be sitting here next year saying I wish I could have done this or I wish I could have done that. I want to leave it all out there.
Q. Coach was fairly open that he said he knows you guys will not be picked high here, and you guys will use that directly as a motivating factor. Has he explained that to you and made it clear that you guys need to prove yourself?
LENNARD FREEMAN: Oh, yeah. I mean, we kind of figured that. We have a lot of new pieces, new coaches, so I'm not surprised that we're not picked high. Hopefully y'all pick us last, honestly, so we can only go up from there. No disrespect, but we work too hard for us to actually like -- not say care, but I'm a competitor, so if you sit here and tell me that I'm going to be 15 or 14 out of 15 teams, then it's just going to put me in a different mindset and make me go twice as hard and make me want to prove everyone wrong, so go ahead and pick us last, please.
Q. What are you guys learning from Coach, and what do you think he's learning from you?
LENNARD FREEMAN: I feel like I can only speak for myself. I feel like that I'm learning to compete and everything. Coach makes you become a competitor. Every drill we do, it's a winner and a loser, so he makes you bring it every day. I think that's the main thing with Coach -- he doesn't accept anything other than 110 percent. Every day in practice, you know you're going to go hard, you're going to give it your all, and I think that's what I learned from him, just how to be an extremely hard competitor. I'm not really sure what he learned from us yet. It's hard to get in Coach Keatts` head.
Q. We're all getting to learn him a little bit. What have you learned about this teammate?
LENNARD FREEMAN: Al Freeman, Al is different. On the court, he's a great player. He's a great scorer. I've been seeing him -- we graduated in high school, same class, so I've been seeing him for a while. He's a great scorer, a great player, and he's one of the leaders on the team off the court. He's like the granddad of the team. He makes sure he does the right thing and he leads by example. He's just a great leader, great player overall.
Q. Tell us about Lennard. Is he just as old?
ALLERIK FREEMAN: Man, on the court, I would say Lennard is probably the heart and soul of the team. He wins in practice, every 50/50 battle, every loose ball, every rebound. He'll throw illegal screens in there every now and then. But no, I would say off the court, he's definitely somebody that leads by example, too. I probably am the oldest on the team, but I'd definitely say he acts the oldest.
Q. Just what you can say about your adversity and everything that you went through in your career, coming to NC State and the decision to be at NC State.
ALLERIK FREEMAN: You know, I think it was -- I really have enjoyed my time here at NC State. I just tried to take advantage of every single day. I think it was a great choice and opportunity here for what the situation presents and what I wanted as a player. I think I really feel like I can really help the team, and I feel like the team really gives me an opportunity to show what I couldn't show in the past few seasons.
I think that we all go through adversity in life, one way or one time or another, and some people go through adversity early on. Some people go through adversity later, and it's just about how you respond to it. We're all going to be faced with it, and just you go through things in life that prepare you.
What I've been through in the past, what I've been through in my journey, it's not the last time I'm going to go through adversity, and everybody in this room, we're going to go through adversity multiple times in our life. What the lessons that we learned are going to help us prepare for the future, future challenges that we have and the success that we have and the failures that we have.
Q. If Coach yells out Freeman in practice, who most likely is he angry at or happy with?
ALLERIK FREEMAN: It's probably angry with me and happy with him.
Q. When you think about the total of the season, we've asked other student-athletes this, to be successful this year, do you have to raise a piece of hardware? Do you have to have a trophy?
ALLERIK FREEMAN: I think it depends on who you ask. For every team, there's different goals. For us -- I can't speak for anybody else, but for our team, at the end of the year, we want to have a piece of hardware. We want to have the trophy for everything that we competed in, the ACC tournament, the NCAA tournament, when we go to the Bahamas. We're not going into any game, any tournament, any situation, any scrimmage, any exhibition, anything, not planning on winning not planning on being victorious.
And I think if anybody is, then I think you're doing the wrong thing right now with your life. I think anything anybody does, you should always want to be the best, you should always want to come in first. That's one thing that we learned, sometimes the hard way, every single day in practice. It's -- winning is -- it becomes who you are and everything that you do. That's how we try to approach everything that we get faced with.